Scottish fact of the week: Glasgow Subway

The Glasgow Subway, which celebrates its 117th birthday next month. Picture: Comp

The Glasgow Subway, which celebrates its 117th birthday next month. Picture: Comp

The Glasgow Subway turns 117-years-old next month, and as one of the world’s oldest underground rail systems it is held in high esteem by the people who collectively make around 14 million journeys a year on the Clockwork Orange.

The network connects the city’s central and West End districts (as well as some south of the River Clyde) with 15 stops. Though the dual circular route has remained unchanged since opening in 1896, the line has moved with the times since its inception as a cable railway.

After a period of decline in the use and upkeep of the Subway, a major overhaul of the system was put in place in the late 70s. The infamously shoogly wooden carriages, many of which had been in service since the 19th century, were replaced by modern rolling stock over the 1977-80 period of the metro network’s revamp.

Already undergoing its second major period of modernisation with the introduction of smartcards and ambitious plans to expand the underground system’s orbital route, the Glasgow Subway still retains a strong sense of its own history, most visibly in the shape of part of a carriage installed at Buchanan Street Station from its pre-1977 era.

The Subway’s heritage also extends to a ritual favoured by students, the subcrawl, where passengers must stop at all 15 stations for a pint (or more if you’re so inclined).

The recent abolition of the 20-journey ticket makes this challenge considerably more expensive, though.

Rikki Fulton and Jack Milroy immortalised the old network in The Underground Song as Francie and Josie, but this video gives an equally permament (and archly critical) reminder of where the Subway was before its 70s refurbishment.




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